How to Give Talks for Your Complementary Practice

Do you run talks to promote your work as a practitioner?  If you don’t, you could be missing a trick.  Talks are a great way of marketing your services locally, getting known and finding new clients.

Fifteen years ago, if you’d asked me to give a talk, I’d have rejected the idea as being ridiculous.  I totally believed I was not a public speaker!  As an introvert, the idea of doing talks scared me.  I’ve always been great behind the scenes getting everyone organised, but I’d never been the front person.

That had to change when I started working for myself as a practitioner.  I had to get out of my own way and start to build my confidence to speak.

how to give talks for your complementary practice

I’ve been running monthly talks for about 8 years now which have been an incredibly effective way to attract new clinical clients.  I’m now happy to talk to groups and I’ve even spoken at a few conferences too.

It takes a few talks to get into your stride, but you have to start somewhere.

Why talks?

Talks are a great way to get started if you want to use speaking as a strategy to market your business.

They are a way of sharing your knowledge and building your profile.  They allow people to get to know you, experience your style and understand how you can help them.

As a complementary practitioner, building great relationships are critical to your success.  Talks provide an opportunity for people to meet you and find out if you are the right person to solve their problems.  They will also act as a filter for those who aren’t a good fit.

Start small

Look for opportunities locally where you can share your knowledge: networking events, clubs in your niche, open days, local shows and exhibitions, health food stores, or you could run your own talks.  Find the places where your favourite clients hang out and run a talk there.

Be you

You are the best person to market yourself.  You are sharing how you help people so allow your passion to shine through.

Find a way of sharing your message in a way that suits your style, you will be comfortable, and it’ll show.

When I first started doing talks, I did a bit of a double act with my colleague Claire.  It was interesting how different people were attracted to me as ‘Captain Sensible’ whilst others loved Claire’s high energy approach.

Focus on being helpful

Although you are giving the talk, it should focus on answering your audiences’ questions.  You need to provide them with value by educating and entertaining them.

Be prepared

You can’t expect to rock up to do an amazing talk without having prepared first.  It takes practice and some homework to deliver a talk that works for you and your audience.

Start by working out what you want to achieve from giving the talk.

Have a clear message you want to deliver during the talk.  This will tell people who you help, what you help them with and the results they can expect.

Ensure you know your topic inside out so you can answer questions including any objections that come up.  This will help you stay calm and provide considered responses if needed.

Quality over quantity

You don’t have to stand and talk for an hour to provide value.  Work out the key points you want to get across and create a talk that addresses those without the waffle.

My regular talk is a very relaxed affair.  I give an introduction followed by an overview of the key points and then open the floor for questions.  It takes around 30 minutes to go through my bit and I allow 30 minutes for questions.

My first talks were a whole different story.  I had a PowerPoint presentation which was packed full of information and took an hour to deliver.  Looking back, they were pretty overwhelming, and I was probably scaring people off!  I quickly learned to keep it simple was a better option both for me and prospective clients.


Even though you know your topic inside out, you will still need to practice it.  It’s amazing how much you will change it once you’ve run through it a few times.  You could record it and watch or listen back to it to see what worked well and what didn’t.

Get the audience involved

The last thing you want is to have a lot of blank faces staring at you.  Find a way that works for you of getting the audience involved.

I have a couple of easy, fun exercises which help explain things but also get people engaged during the talk.  I then provide time for a question and answer session which also engages people.

Tell people what to do next

Give everyone the next steps they should take which will come from your goal for running the talk.

At the very least, invite people to join your email list.  Have a way of capturing their details and permission with you.

Have a plan b

Things don’t always go to plan and having a backup is a great way of reducing your stress in these times.  If you are using a PowerPoint, have a printed copy, have your bullet points written on index cards, etc.  Just make sure you’re able to still give your talk, even if you have a technology meltdown.

Learn the art of speaking

Invest time if you don’t have the money to improve your speaking skills.  It will pay dividends and help you grow your confidence.  You could start with some self-study using YouTube videos, books or online courses.  If you want to ramp this up to the next level, check out organisations such as Toastmasters or find a speaking coach to help you hone your art.

If you want to start using talks to market your practice, contact me to find out how I can help.